Penobscot County Jail. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

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I oppose a proposed multimillion dollar expansion of the Penobscot County Jail. With Penobscot County increasingly known for overdoses and a growing homeless population, it was bewildering to learn there’s a plan by county commissioners to build more jail cells.

State statistics show crime has decreased, while the need for mental health treatment in communities and schools, and for housing is increasing. Is jail the solution to inadequate wages, lost shelter, and diseases of despair? We’ll hide the people suffering in a place known for making people worse, not better?

While our volunteer organizations work on a shoestring, and healthcare coverage is limited or non-existent for many, we are paying more and more in taxes, to a system that harms whole families and communities through jails, prisons, pleas, courts, and a system of increasing IT-surveillance and policing in communities and schools. The system culminates with a felony record creating a nationwide underclass forever.

When folks go to jail, many lose everything in their life — job, apartment, possessions. Innocent families and friends are also hurt economically and socially.

No wonder so many cycle in and out of Penobscot County Jail. County commissioners would be making a huge mistake. Let’s address problems in our community.

Janet Drew